Our people make the difference
A company is only as good as its people. Whilst this phrase is widely recognised, so often it can be ignored by a business, particularly as it grows in size beyond perhaps its initial team.
Luckily, I’m proud to say that at Carter Jonas we hold our employees in the same high regard that we hold our clients, recognising that people who deliver the service are key to a successful business; essentially, good people are a precious commodity. This is one of the reasons that we invest so heavily in our graduate scheme and apprenticeship programme. As a firm, we face the same challenge as any professional sports club, in attracting and retaining star players, but in the same way, we also look to recruit good people at the start of their careers to grow and nurture the potential stars of tomorrow.
To qualify as a chartered surveyor graduates must pass the Assessment of Professional Competence, the dreaded APC. Twice a year the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) gather panels of ‘assessors’ who interview the candidates after, generally, an initial two years of on-the-job training. Over the course of the hour, the hopefuls will be grilled on their professional knowledge, experience and ethics. It can be brutal - as it is an oral exam there is nowhere to hide - and there is no escape until the hour is up.
Support from experienced colleagues and a structured training programme is essential for success. Because of this, I've endeavoured to help those at the beginning of their careers, and I'm proud to say the training and support programme at Carter Jonas is one of the best. Trainee surveyors in our main hub offices rotate through a series of placements in different teams, to provide a wide a range of experience.
As well being supported throughout this process, in the run-up to the final test, they are given tailored guidance and advice on how to present to the panel; a process that includes mock interviews and constructive feedback to help ensure they are fully prepped.
The resultant pass rate amongst our commercial surveying graduates is much higher than the 65% national average - consistently above 90%. But success doesn’t come without effort, both Partners and trainees can spend hours together, over and above the four days a year of training courses we run.
The cost of our time is an investment in the future, for which the returns are not only rewarding but beneficial to our business. If graduates have a varied and interesting two years of rotation they are more likely to identify the path that they would like to pursue once qualified. Additionally, having been supported and valued throughout their training period, they’re far more likely to stay at Carter Jonas rather than walk away once qualified.
Our clients also recognise as a strength the firm’s commitment to training. Having recently been instructed by MEPC as letting agent for Silverstone Park, Roz Bird, Commercial Director at the Park cited our investment in recruitment and our graduates, as well as our efforts to attract more women into the property industry, as one of the key factors that secured our appointment. The consideration for equality and diversity within their workforce makes business sense to MEPC.
Finally, along with all the good business reasons in doing what we do, there’s no denying the buzz that we get from hearing our graduates say “I passed!” This year the Cambridge team has welcomed five people on it graduate and apprenticeship programmes and I wish them every success as they continue on their journey to professional qualification.